The Chance to Desire Life Again
“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”
Ones very will to live can be corrected by being with others that truly care for your well being. In the novella Call of the Wild by Jack London, Buck was blessed to run into John Thornton and his dogs to forever change his desire for life. Buck endured a series of masters before John Thornton who used him, beat him and slowly decreased his desire to live. Buck was harshly treated by many men who tried to break him and make him a hard working sled dog. Ironically it was during in the middle of one of his worst beating that John Thornton appeared to intervene and change the course of Buck’s life. John Thornton was a different type of master. By treating Buck as a valued friend, almost like a child to be cared for, John earned the trust of Buck and Buck began to become excited about living.
Call of The Wild is a book about a dog named Buck. Buck originally lived on Judge Miller’s estate. The gardener on the estate, Manuel sold Buck to a dog trader who smuggled him to Seattle for sale. Buck was sold to French Canadians. He worked for them pulling sleds for a while and then he is sold to other men to pull mail. Finally he was sold to Hal and Charles to get them to Dawson. They did not have enough food for the 14 dogs that they bought and 11 of them end up dying. They get to John Thornton’s camp where they quickly stop and talk about the rotting ice. When Hal says to get up Buck does stand. He is beaten badly until John intervenes. He becomes close with John and begins trusts him. Buck starts getting the call of the wild but he remembers his loving master, John and cannot go. John dies in a Yeehat ambush and Buck finally answers the call of the wild.
Buck was harshly treated by most of his owners. He was struck by clubs, whips and fists throughout his time with humans. When Buck first came out of his cage after being on the train to Seattle he ran at a man in a red sweater. The man hit him hard. “He had never been struck by a club in his life, and did not understand. With a snarl that was part bark and more scream he was again on his feet and launched into the air. And again the shock came and he was brought crushingly to the ground” (17). This was Buck’s introduction to man in the world outside of his first home. This would foreshadow his experience to accept this new reality of a harsh physical relationship with man. His acceptance was to the final test when Hal abused him to the point of starvation, malnourishment and sheer physical torture. “So greatly had he suffered, and so far gone was he, that the blows did not hurt much. And as they continued to fall upon him, the spark of life within flickered and went down. It was nearly out” (99). He had been abused so often that he had submitted to the abuse. His will to live had begun to fade.
It was at that precise moment when fate brought John to Buck and Buck’s took a turn for the better. John treated Buck better than any master had before. John was extremely nice and caring. After Buck had been badly beaten by Hal “Thornton knelt beside him and with rough, kindly hands searched for broken bones” (100). John loved Buck like one of his children. Buck shared that feeling in that Buck loved John as well. When Buck’s “brother” was taking him to the wild Buck remembered John. “They stopped by a running stream to drink, and, stopping, Buck remembered John Thornton” (133). Buck trusted and cared about John and wasn’t ready to leave him then and might not have been able to answer the call ever until John left him. That’s exactly what happened, John was killed by the Yeehat’s and Buck was ready to answer the call. “It was the call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and compellingly than ever before. And as never before, he was ready to obey. John Thornton was dead. The last tie was broken. Man and the claims of man no longer bound him” (147).
Buck’s returning to his own kind was made possible by the passing of a man who completed his positive relationship to man; he was set free by John Thornton, his connection to man kind no longer existed.